Our ability to create robots that can shape shift and change their shape is a matter of when, not if, and we’re getting closer.


Between the US Pentagon’s use of an Artificial Intelligence (AI) to defend its critical systems from attack, DARPA’s proposal to build a global AI platform that monitors the whole world for threatsBoston Dynamics’ ATLAS robot that recently learned how to do Parkour, and Oxford University’s experiments to put 3D printed human skin onto robots, the 21st century is increasingly starting to resemble the prelude to James Cameron’s 1984 Terminator movies. Furthermore, combine it with new nascent Liquid Computing tech and, potentially, you have a robot that would make even science fiction writers tremble – another example of science fiction becoming science fact.


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Now, keeping with the theme, a group of materials scientists from Beihang University in China have just published a paper detailing a polymorphic liquid metal compound that can be stretched and moved in 3D with magnets. The American Chemical Society (ACS) reports that the substance – called a Magnetic Liquid Metal Droplet, or MLMD for short, is an alloy made of Gallium, Indium and Tin infused with iron particles and submerged in Hydrochloric Acid.


The potential is huge

And movie fans aren’t the only ones who recognize the potential of the material to create real life polymorphic robot Terminators like the T-1000.


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“With all the appealing properties,” the scientists wrote, “this MLMD presents a fundamental and promising platform for the liquid metals to further develop the multi-freedom actuation in free space and eventually lead to the dynamically re-configurable intelligent and Bio-Mimetic soft robots in the future.”

Still not convinced? Then you haven’t watched the video… oh, and one other thing, the discovery could also open the door to re-configurable electronics, and that’s an entirely new ball game… it’s going to be fun!

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, Bloomberg, CNBC, Discovery, RT, Viacom, and WIRED, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Aon, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.

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